Seven Interesting Things About Intelligent Design

Computer evolution jokeThere is a difference between a wrist watch and a rock. The watch has been purposefully designed. More and more scientists see intelligent design in the universe, animals, and plants.

(1)     MADE JUST FOR US: The universe is exquisitely fine-tuned for our existence, not only in biology and chemistry, but also in elemental physics. The expansion of water when it freezes, causing ice to float instead of sink, keeps the oceans from freezing solid. The earth is the perfect distance from the sun. If gravity were minutely stronger, the sun would burn up. Can you shuffle cards and draw at random all four aces, and do it hundreds of times in a row? No way! But the universe IS perfectly designed – mathematically impossible by chance – so human life can exist. (See Nature’s Destiny by Michael Denton;also Hugh Ross in Mere Creation, ed. by William Dembski.)

(2)     IRREDUCIBLE COMPLEXITY: Race cars, watches, computers, jets, and houses are all designed. They have complicated and complex blueprints with specific, detailed information to be followed exactly in order for the finished product to work. Animals and plants are more complex still. They can even reproduce, because their living cells are crammed with tons of information on a molecular scale. The DNA in every cell contains vast quantities of highly specific patterns and information for making waste disposal plants; streets and vehicles; and factories to take in, process, and spit out stuff. Their parts are all the right size and design so that they work together. Change the slightest thing and they die. DNA is like computer software – accidental events could never, ever, have produced it. (See Michael Behe, Darwin’s Black Box.)

(3)     DESIGN IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM: Some of us know how electric motors work. There are brushes, a rotor, and something called a stator, whatever that is. You plug in an electric fan and it comes on, because all the parts work together. Many tiny little critters have hairs called cilia, like nose hairs, only very much smaller, like bunches of little tails, whipping in a designed way to help little critters swallow stuff. Each tiny cilium has a microscopic little motor that makes its tail go round. It’s a little biological motor – brushes, a rotor, and even a stator (or outer shell, I looked it up). Cilia have non-accidental, complex, working machinery like an electric fan – or a child’s toy with an electric motor – i.e. designed by Intelligence.

(4)     DESIGN IN THE PLANT KINGDOM: Biochemists spend their whole lives trying to manipulate a new hybrid of corn, soybean, or a new bug resistant tomato. Their $200 college biology textbooks still preach evolution, but intelligent design shouts from every page. We are closer to landing on Mars than we are to understanding how the cell of any plant actually works on the molecular level.

(5)     THE MOON GIVES EVIDENCE FOR A YOUNG EARTH: Earth’s moon is currently moving slowly away from the earth at a decreasing rate of about 4 centimeters a year. As you go back in time, the rate of moving away was much faster. In the magazine Creation Ex Nihilo 14(4):43, Sept–Nov 1992, Dr. Don DeYoung, professor of physics in Indiana, proves that if the earth were really 4.5 billion years old, it would have lost the moon long ago. But it has not! If you spin the moon backwards in time, it would only take a few thousand years for the moon to be in an orbit scraping the earth. This is very strong evidence for an earth only thousands of years old, not millions or billions. The earth cannot be 4.5 billion years old.

Just for fun, let me mention two more interesting geological tidbits: (1) all over the earth there is a thick layer of sediment. In it, fossils are found. More and more geologists are concluding that this is evidence of a world-wide flood. (2) When Mount St. Helens erupted, the big deep lake at the top spilled down the mountainside. In only a day or so, it carved a big canyon that looks exactly like a little Grand Canyon. It is evidence that the receding waters of a worldwide flood most likely carved the Grand Canyon in mere weeks, not over millions of years. (See John D. Morris, The Young Earth, and Dr. Donald DeYoung, Thousands, Not Billions.)

(6)     CARBON 14 AND ISOTOPIC DATING – DECEITFUL METHODS: None of the so-called “scientific” dating methods hold up to real scientific examination. Carbon 14 dating of the back of a live snail says it is thousands of years old; radioactive isotopic dating of newly cooled rock says it is millions of years old. Like geologists who use fossils to date rocks, and rocks to date fossils, current dating methods use much circular reasoning and throwing out of actual results. They choose their numbers and don’t really prove the million-years or billion-years ages of anything. (See the work of John Woodmorappe, The Mythology of Modern Dating Methods.)

(7)     EINSTEIN’S THEORY OF RELATIVITY HELPS CREATIONISTS: D. Russell Humphries, Ph.D., is a nuclear physicist, theoretical atomic physicist, cosmologist, and geophysicist. In Starlight and Time, he explains how Einstein’s theory of relativity follows the order of creation in Genesis 1 exactly, once you remove unproven assumptions of the “big bang” theory. Mathematically, Dr. Humphries neatly solves the existence of distant starlight in a young universe. Simplifying his explanation, we know that gravity bends light. But gravity also distorts time, the very same way that velocity does. At creation, the stars were flung out from a strong gravitational center, and as they went out at unimaginable speed, they aged billions of years due to changes in both velocity and gravity. And that’s good physics, and good science!

Groupthink Occurs on the Left and the Right

Groupthink is a word identifying a really bad aspect of political correctness. Groupthink is a term discussed in a book, The New Thought Police: Inside the Left’s Assault on Free Speech and Free Minds, by Tammy Bruce, ã 2001, Prima Publishing. 300 pages. $23.95 through Amazon. The unusual thing about Tammy Bruce’s book is that she is a former nationally known liberal who saw the light and now hates groupthink. She introduced me to the term.

Tammy Bruce begins by saying, “I am an openly gay, pro-choice, gun-owning, pro-death penalty, liberal, voted-for-Reagan feminist. Certainly a contradiction in terms.” In 1990, she became the president of the Los Angeles chapter of the National Organization for Women and discovered a quality of political correctness which she hated – groupthink. Bruce identifies groupthink as a clearer label than political correctness. Groupthink is a term coined by Irving L. Janis, author of Victims of Groupthink (Houghton Mifflin, 1972, $25.11). Russell Conté has this to say about Janis’ later book, Groupthink (Cengage Learning, 1982, $6.95):

“Irving L. Janis culls together evidence regarding three fiascoes, the Bay of Pigs invasion, Pearl Harbor, and the United States’ invasion into North Korea, and contrasts those with the Cuban Missile Crisis and Marshall Plan. The bottom line is that the first three incidents were examples of groupthink, the last two were able to avoid this problem. Groupthink is the process described by Janis when a group follows a certain set of patterns that result in disastrous consequences. Clearly if the same group patterns were applied to the Cuban Missile Crises that were used in the Bay of Pigs, the world might well have been destroyed by nuclear war. The possible consequences for groups are enormous. When a group, whether it is a business, church, school, little league, not for profit, or other organization, knows how to avoid groupthink, it can come to a much better decision for the group itself, as well as those the group represents. Janis provides the means to help groups accomplish this very important goal.”

Groupthink has eight symptoms. While Janis uses the term to explain movements in international politics, we can apply it readily to other groups as well. Do you recognize these qualities in groups around you?

  1.  The illusion of invulnerability.Individual members believe that belonging to the group protects them in whatever they do as part of the group. “We are the 99%!”
  2. Belief in the inherent morality of the group. – We are the good guys and our decisions are always the moral high ground. Mark Levin, Rush Limbaugh, and Sean Hannity on one side; Harry Reid, Barack Obama, and Nancy Pelosi on the other.
  3. Collective rationalization. – We are right, no matter what the evidence may say. Abortion vs. Anti-abortion; Gays vs. Heterosexuals; and virtually all political groups.
  4. Out-group stereotypes. – People name call those of opposing views to put them in the worst possible light. “Racist!” “Right-wing flag-waving religious fundamentalist homophobe!” “Radical bigoted fascist with a Taliban mentality!” This reminds us of how tribes of monkeys fight: they fill two trees facing one another and scream at the other side. They also throw things, some of which are unmentionable, to dirty the other side.
  5. Self-censorship. – People within the group remain silent where there is perceived consensus, rather than risk humiliation and rejection by expressing an opinion possibly contrary to the leadership’s direction.
  6. The illusion of unanimity. – People in the group overlook quiet dissent and presume that everyone supports the position of the group.
  7. Direct pressure on dissenters. – Individuals in the group will be pressured to conform, or will be discredited, challenged, attacked, or humiliated if they persist in nonconformity.
  8. Self-appointed mindguards. – Tammy Bruce says, “Janis suggests that certain members of the group will work to keep dissenting opinions away from the leaders. Then, as word gets passed along to other members that the leadership is unwilling to hear criticism, those other members apply self-censorship, which strengthens the illusion of unanimity. Mindguards also work to shield the group from adverse information that might crack their shared complacency.”

In my opinion, both liberals and conservatives are guilty of groupthink. Please take a moment and study these symptoms of it, one by one. See if you don’t agree that groupthink is at work causing a polarization in America. I see it everywhere: the NAACP has it; the KKK has it; the NRA has it; NARAL has it. It’s in churches, and it’s also there in the positions of atheists, environmentalists, and evolutionists. Democrats and Republicans have it.

So how does God feel about strife and discord?

  • Proverbs 6: 16-19 says, “These six things the LORD hates, yes, seven are an abomination to him: a proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren.”
  • Paul specifically lists causing strife as a sin in Rom. 13:13 and Gal. 5:20; he says having a divisive spirit is a sin in I Cor. 3:3; and Peter says railing is a sin in I Peter 3:9. (Railing is reviling; it means extremely loud and harsh criticism or attack.)

Conclusion: Janis says groupthink can be conquered! That is certainly a scriptural idea. In Isaiah 1:18, God says “Come, let us reason together….” And St. Paul says, in Rom. 14:1, that we should welcome the brother whose faith is weaker than ours, but not to “doubtful disputations,” i.e., arguments and quarreling over who is right. If we could just lose our willingness to enter into groupthink, spend time discovering the humanity of those on the other side, how much better things could be. Who is willing to research an opposing view instead of only looking for things that bolster one’s own view? John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Church, once said that in Christianity, schism – losing your unity and splitting up – is as bad as heresy. What he meant by that is that fighting and quarreling, and then polarizing and becoming enemy camps each against the other, is every bit as bad as being in the wrong. Even if you are right, if you quarrel about it, it’s bad!

Dale Carnegie put it in poetic form:

“Here lies the body of William J., who died maintaining his right of way;

He was right, dead right, as he sped along, but he’s just as dead as if he was wrong!”

Carnegie also said, “You can’t get honey if you kick over the beehive.” We MUST learn to conquer groupthink in ourselves.

 May God help us remember the words of Jesus,

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.”

Evolution Debunked

“…when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, 23and changed the glory of the incorruptible God for the likeness of an image of corruptible man….” – Romans 1:21-22

What do Charles Darwin, Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche, Josef Stalin, Mao Tse Tung, John Dewey, Walter Mondale, and Al Gore all have in common? They have all expressed a strong belief in evolution.

Evolution is one of the pillars of modern atheism as well as theological and political liberalism, because it denies the existence of God “scientifically.” If Science says there can be no God, then there can be no Christianity either. Charles Darwin had an enormous contempt for Christianity. He said:

“The Old Testament, from its manifestly false history of the earth, was no more to be trusted than the sacred books of the Hindus, or the beliefs of any barbarian. The New Testament is a damnable doctrine. [I can] hardly see how anyone ought to wish Christianity to be true.” [Charles Darwin, Origin of Species (London: A. L. Burt, 1859).

Darwin actually was much more tentative in his hypothesis of evolution than modern “neo-Darwinists,” who believe in evolution as though they were believers in a religion of atheism. But Darwin himself said:

   “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.” [Charles Darwin, Origin of Species, 6th edition (republished in 1988), New York University Press, New York, p. 154.]

Furthermore, by the time the sixth edition of the Origin of Species was published, Darwin himself wrote that he had abandoned his own theory:

“Natural selection is incompetent to account for the incipient stages of useful structures.” [Charles Darwin, Origin of Species, 6th edition, quoted in White & Comninellis’ book, Darwin’s Demise (Master Books, 2001), p. 40. I am not sure of the year in which the 6th edition came out, but it had to have been before 1882, the year Darwin died. He was born in 1809.]

Today Darwin’s theory has absolutely broken down. The fossil record was nil in Darwin’s day; today the collection of fossils in universities and museums is huge — and it disproves evolution, since the entire fossil record shows only discrete species. Further, since Darwin’s day, it has been scientifically demonstrated that even a single simple cell is so complex and full of biological machinery, detailed codes and blueprints that it could never have been formed by “numerous, successive, slight modifications.” In short, the evidence for intelligent design is overwhelming, universal, and undeniable; and the refutation of evolution is absolute. Dr. George Wald, professor emeritus of biology at Harvard, and Nobel Prize winner in biology in 1971, said:

“There are only two possible explanations as to how life arose: Spontaneous generation arising to evolution or a supernatural creative act of God. … There is no other possibility. Spontaneous generation was scientifically disproved 120 years ago by Louis Pasteur and others, but that just leaves us with only one other possibility … that life came as a supernatural act of creation by God, but I can’t accept that philosophy because I do not want to believe in God. Therefore I choose to believe in that which I know is scientifically impossible, spontaneous generation leading to evolution.” [George Wald, “Origin, Life and Evolution,” Scientific American, 1978. Italics added.]

The scientific world still pays embarrassing lip service to evolution, because it is politically correct and fits in with an atheistic liberal agenda; but real scientists more and more are sheepishly admitting that the theory of evolution is completely and wholly untenable. What follows are ten things evolutionists just can’t answer:

(1) In the entire animal and plant fossil record, there are no fossils of the plants or animals in-between existing species. Throughout the entire plant and animal fossil record, this is so. You have plant or animal A, supposedly claimed to have become plant or animal B. But NOWHERE is there EVER an in-between plant or animal that is half-A and half-B. If evolution is true, why no in-between fossils?

 (2) If man evolved from the apes, why there are still apes? (This came from Dennis Miller, the comedian, in a list of non sequiturs such as why do we drive on a parkway and park on a driveway.)

 (3) Evolutionists can’t explain why fossils of one species are often mixed in, in the actual rock, with the fossils of what they were supposed to evolve into — which by the way completely destroys basing geological age on rocks and fossils.

 (4) How can dinosaur tracks be found on top of human tracks in fossil rock, if dinosaurs died out “millions of years before” humans? [A detailed paleontological source for this is The Origin of Species Revisited, by W. R. Bird.]

 (5) Evolutionists cannot overcome the mathematical laws of random chance. Three monkeys at typewriters will never, ever, type even one of Shakespeare’s sonnets by accident, any more than a tornado will create by chance a Boeing 747. Neither would a DNA strand ever occur from a “primordial soup” no matter how many times lightning might strike. Mathematically, the probability is zero point zero zero zero zero zero. In fact, scientists now admit there never was a “primordial soup.”

 (6) Things that are hot tend to cool down, not get hotter; things that are dead tend to rot, not come alive; rocks fall downhill, not up; and clocks wind down. This is called entropy. Evolutionists have to ignore entropy, or else believe entropy was suspended; but that would be believing in the supernatural, now, wouldn’t it? And we can’t have that. So we come up with a word, “evolution,” which actually means “miraculously without God.” That is all you have, once you admit random chance is totally insufficient to produce even a single strand of DNA for even the simplest single cell.

 (7) Evolutionists cannot explain symbiosis, when two organisms live in total dependence on each other. In a symbiotic relationship, each organism would die before it adapted to its partner organism. The Rhizobium bacterium lives in the roots of the soybean plant, and metabolizes nitrogen from the soil, creating amino acids which the soybean plant then converts to nutrients for itself and the bacterium, which the bacterium can’t make on its own. The soybean plant can’t live without the bacterium’s nitrogen conversion, and the bacterium can’t live without the soybean plant’s amino acid conversion. So how did each of these organisms “evolve” since the slightest change in the arrangement would produce near-instant death for both? Also, how did they try to become symbiotic, since any partial change toward dependence would produce death and extinction?

 (8) Evolutionists ignore the fabulous fact of the existence of the human mind and the human qualities such as bravery, compassion, and love, causing individuals to die for one another (going against survival of the species). Why would any­thing evolve towards believing in God, if the only reason things evolve is for survival of the species? The existence of those who believe in God is in itself evidence against evolution!

 (9) Evolution absolutely cannot explain how fantastically complicated even a single cell is. Inside a single cell is a whole city of chemical motors, messengers, and messages relating in an enormously interdependent way. The DNA code of intelligent programming information in a single strand of DNA would fill all the books in the largest of libraries. To believe that time and chance created even one simple cell defies all reason. It would take a blueprint the size of a city block just to show everything that we currently know happens in a single cell. Dr. Michael Behe, an evolutionist and atheist, who wrote Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, says he still believes in evolution, but natural selection “cannot explain molecular life.” (Page 5). If it can’t explain molecular life, how can evolution explain any kind of life? It can’t, and it doesn’t.

 (10) In face of these problems with their theory, some evolutionists are beginning to believe that life was started by aliens from outer space — although that begs the question, doesn’t it? If evolution couldn’t create life here, how did it create alien life somewhere else?

The truth is, the theory of evolution crumbles at the first serious look. Real scientists, even atheists, are forced to believe wackier and wackier scenarios in order to continue to believe in evolution. But “the fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.” (Ps. 14). Evolutionists are the blind, trying to blind others in order to lead them into the ditch of unreasoning rejection of God. And finally:

Finally: If evolution really works, how come mothers only have two hands!

The Masculinity of God

A woman once said, “I know God is not a woman –  no  woman would have created men with so many imperfections.”  And it was Rita Rudner who said, “Men don’t get cellulite…God just might be a man after all.” I laughed at both remarks. But on a serious note, let’s take a look at the issue of the gender of God.

God is Spirit: In the deepest sense, God is Spirit and as such is beyond masculinity or femininity. Both men and women are created in the image of God on the level of the human spirit. We know there is neither male nor female in Christ Jesus.

God has traits that are without reference to gender: Furthermore, just like you and me, God has traits that belong to both genders: God is creative, loyal, loving, faithful, and interested in relationships. But the Bible also makes it clear that God wants us to consider Him as our Father, not as our Mother. I can’t tell you why that is so, but I can tell you that it is so.

God certainly delights in the feminine: I believe God created woman (from man) in a certain sense as the pinnacle of His creation, the last and finest creature He made on earth. God can even describe Himself from the feminine point of view, as when Jesus said He would have gathered Israel to Himself as a hen gathers her chicks (Mat 23:37), and when He describes both the woman and Himself as a helper (Gen. 2:18, Ps. 10:14). God totally approves of the feminine — as He also does of the masculine. God requires husbands to give their lives for their wives, caring for them physically and emo­tionally, Eph. 5; God requires men to work to understand their wives before He will even listen to their prayers, I Pet 3:7.

The feminine obviously appeals greatly to God, and though God reveals Himself as male He sometimes chooses what some call the feminine approach. Dr. Deborah Tannen, anthropologist and author, says (in her book You Just Don’t Understand: Men and Women in Conversation, 1990):

1.  Women tend to value connectedness and sharing over independence or competitiveness or winning. (Jesus let Judas trap Him even though He didn’t have to.)

2.  Women prefer to consult first rather than to decide for others without checking, as men sometimes do. Women like to operate without a boss, with everyone equal. (God consulted with both Abraham and Moses.)

3.  Women more easily accept help as being an expres­sion of interest, rather than seeing an offer of help as implying they are incompetent. A man’s concern typically is never to need help but always to be able to give it. (Jesus had twelve helpers; he accepted gifts of food and money, and also expres­sions of affection and support)

4.  Women are willing to lose respect and appear in the wrong to preserve a relationship. They avoid force if possible and prefer compromise to conflict. (Jesus was willing to take our sin upon Himself and be mocked and crucified in order to restore man to God.)

Yet God definitely reveals himself as Father:  God says in Jeremiah 31:9, “I am a Father to Is­rael.” Psalm 68:5 says, “A father of the fatherless…is God in his holy habitation.” Psalm 89:26 says, “Thou art my father, my God.” Jesus said, “Pray like this: Our Father….”  Biblically speaking, God is referred to only in the masculine gender. What does this mean?

God reveals himself as masculine:  Based on what anthropologist Deborah Tannen, Ph.D., has dis­covered to be common masculine traits, plus a few of my own, here are seven ways, it seems to me, that God reveals Himself to be masculine:

1.  God is depicted as a warrior who loves His people and seems to enjoy battling for them. Zephaniah 3:17 says, “The Lord in the midst of thee is a mighty warrior; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.” God will fight for you, and no buts about it (Exo. 14:14).

2.  God is fearsome, needs His space, and closeness is by invitation only. God stays on a throne (I wonder if it reclines) surrounded by a sea of glass, Rev. 4:6, and by mighty angels called seraphim — throne guards. It is a privilege to approach God. God’s dignity and distance is not a joke, and it is not feminine. Hearing God’s voice made Israelites afraid they would die, Dt. 18:16. To touch Mt. Sinai was death, Ex. 19:12.

3.   God occasionally boasts; He reminds us of His independence. He reminds us that we need Him but He doesn’t need us. In Psalm 50:12 God says, “If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fulness thereof.”

4.  God demands absolute respect, and our praise is very important to Him. In Isaiah 42:8 He says, “I am the LORD:…my glory will I not give to another.”  In Malachi 2:2 He says, “If ye will not lay it to heart, to give glory unto my name, saith the LORD of hosts, I will even send a curse upon you… because ye do not lay it to heart.”

5.   God prides Himself on being a rescuer of those who call on Him. He is a Savior, a deliverer from the wicked. But this is because God thinks in terms of right or wrong. God punishes those in the wrong even if it ends the relationship.  Even though God is not willing that anyone perish, Psalms 9:17 says, nevertheless, “The wicked shall be turned into hell.” God is so firm He can be very hard!

6.   God sometimes plays rough to teach trust in Him. He confronts. He tests people to find out what they are made of. At times He makes extremely hard demands. Mothers rarely toss their babies in the air and catch them, but fathers love to do it. Tossing and catching says, “I’ll put you in danger and rescue you just to teach you to trust me.” In the same way, God demanded of Abraham that he sacrifice Isaac, but then provided a ram to sacrifice instead. He let Satan kill Job’s ten children, destroy Job’s wealth, and cover Job with sores, after boasting to Satan about how perfect Job was. God not only taught Satan a lesson, but He taught Job a lesson, too. God tested Jesus by letting Satan tempt him. God asked Jesus to die on the cross. Even Jesus let the storm rage on the Sea of Galilee until Peter cried, Mark 4:38, “Master, carest thou not that we per­ish?” Jesus calmed the storm, then chided His men for their lack of faith. This is not a woman’s way of dealing with people.

7.   God is supreme boss and He deals with us by giving commands. God can threaten. There can be the most severe consequences for disobeying Him. Though He is gentle with beginning disciples, the more you grow, the tougher He gets with you and the more He demands. We see this in the parable of the prodigal son (with the elder son), in the parable of the talents, and in the parable of the unforgiving servant. “To whom much is given” (or forgiven), “much will be re­quired.”

Conclusion:

To Christian women I would offer this encouragement: although from the time of Adam’s fall men have let women down by failing to protect them, the fault does not lie in their masculinity but in their sin nature, which is common to both sexes. It behooves a godly woman to learn to enjoy the male animal, as Peter says in I Peter 3, without too much “amazement.” No godly woman wants her man to give up his masculine world view. Let us be our earthy and sometimes refined self, and we men will be overjoyed to let you be your refined and sometimes earthy self. If your man isn’t per­fect yet, please don’t give up! Be thankful that he has Jesus as his example to follow, and pray for him. Respect him even if he doesn’t always deserve it, because he is good to you even though you don’t always deserve it. Prime his pump!

To Christian men I would say, just because some women sin against us men, blaming us, trying to change us, and not always giving us the respect we deserve, that doesn’t mean that all women hate men. There are plenty of them that really like us just as we are. We can be proud that, even though God made women to be more in touch with their feel­ings, more sensitive, and so on, He chose to manifest Himself as masculine. Though rougher than women, we are in no way inferior to them — we are joint heirs in Christ. We should be working harder and harder to protect, care for, cherish, and be tender to our women so they can make the house a home, and so we can earn the respect that we crave as men. We have the awesome challenge from God of giving our lives for our women and children, with Jesus as our example. May it always be said of our church that the men truly were men and the women were glad.

Finally, never forget that underneath gender, both sexes are made in the image of God. Let gender be a blessing, not a curse!

Race: Playing Well with Others – Part Two

How can we heal sour interracial relationships? Some people have great difficulty even imagining how it would be to move from war to friendship with persons of another race.  Even when in the middle of supportive games, in their heart of hearts they keep gravitating toward interpreting everything about the other race as being a destructive game. They do not trust the other race. They fear being used. They have inner contempt for the other race, either hidden or apparent.  They consciously or unconsciously play destructive games; they may privately or publicly use hate speech. They publicly excuse their own race and blame the other race.

For years, Mississippians lived within a caste relationship. Racism is what a person within a caste system feels for persons in other castes. The term “caste” comes from India and refers to four different groups in that society (brahmins, warriors, merchants, untouchables). They all live together, interdependently, yet socially apart. A person from one caste has only limited dealings with a person from another caste; the rest of the time, they “cut each other dead” – avoiding eye contact, social contact, or any form of recognizing the existence of the other person. In Mississippi, years ago, this took the form of separate public bathroom facilities, separate water fountains, and separate schools. In the present, people still “cut each other dead” even though past forms of racism are gone. Racism can be black as well as white.

A bare minimum for ending racism is simple recognition of the other’s existence. This means eye contact, saying “Good morning,” friendly finger waves when passing strangers walking on the street or in a car, not avoiding the other race in public or business situations. This is the first step to ending the caste system – recognition that another person exists comes even before recognition that the other person is valuable, then socially acceptable.

Beyond simple recognition, there needs to be communication that is productive. There is a scriptural principle that causing strife and division, having a divisive spirit, or railing against one’s fellow believer is a sin. Proverbs 6:16-19 says the one who causes strife among brethren is an abomination to God. Paul specifically lists causing strife as a sin in Rom. 13:13 and Gal. 5:20; he says having a divisive spirit is a sin in I Cor. 3:3; and Peter says railing is a sin in I Peter 3:9. (Railing is reviling; it means extremely loud and harsh criticism or attack.) Paul says, in Rom. 14:1, that we should welcome the brother with a weak faith, but not to doubtful disputations.  One side should not rail against the other under the guise of “just being honest.” Railing is a sin against others. Paul says in Ephesians 4:31-32, “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.”

Some kinds of speech need to be guarded against. One is railing under the guise of honest or frank confession of what is hurting you; that is just an attack, hate speech falsely disguised as a request for repentance. Another is pretending that everything is fine when it is not. A third is accusing another of name-calling or labeling when in fact they were making an honest effort to communicate. A fourth is “explaining” when in fact you are arguing. In fact, trying to “win the argument” may result in breaking down a relationship instead of building it up.

Righteousness is whatever builds up the relationship; sin is whatever tears it down. After years of study of the Bible, I have come to the conclusion that this is true.  Lying is wrong because it destroys relationship. Stealing, adultery, bearing false witness, and in fact all the ten commandments are there because the sin destroys relationship, either with others or with God. This is why sometimes the righteous thing to do is to stop trying to prove you are right for the sake of the relationship. Sometimes arguing can be a sin.

What is needed to heal racial relationships is more covenant-making. Making covenant and being faithful to it creates relationship. In the business world, when you partner with someone you automatically develop some kind of a social relationship. In the sports world, when you play on the same team you form a bond. The more such bonds exist across racial lines, the less of a hold a caste system, or racism, can have in a society. The goal of a biracial committee should be to foster more good interracial bonding.

How far must we go before racism is completely eliminated?  In the words of the secretary of Dr. Martin Luther King, who once spoke to me personally, “Love knows no bounds.” That is the Christian position. St. Paul said, in Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” In Paul’s day, Jews were strongly racially prejudiced against Gentiles; they viewed them as unclean and morally inferior. St. Paul, however, is saying that our covenant with God through Jesus Christ is so deep and powerful that all other differences cease to exist. We are one in Christ Jesus. The outworking of this is that all cultural differences, even down to the differences in race, should make no difference in who we consider socially acceptable.

Many don’t want to go all the way. An old professor of mine from college, Yaya Armajani, was Iranian – although he said he preferred the word “Persian.” He once said there would never be real healing between the two different castes in the southern United States until there was intermarriage. We all know that you have truly overcome race when you reach the point of marriage and family ignoring racial differences (skin color and cultural customs). Many people don’t want to go this far. They want interracial harmony at the public level, at the economic level, and so on; but intermarriage bothers them because they fear that their own culture will be lost in the melting.

What level of coexistence do you want to see between races where you live?  It may depend on what issue is at stake. You may be for public rallies, integrated public schools, and no job preference based on race; yet you may not want to live in the same neighborhood or you may not be able to tolerate intermarriage. Interestingly, you will find blacks and whites on both sides of these issues:

 

  • What shall the flag flying over Mississippi look like?
  • Should there be affirmative action?
  • Should there be reparations for slavery?
  • Should there be racial intermarriage?

 

Is it possible, nevertheless, to coexist as friends who respect one another’s culture without some kind of total integration?  Of course! May the Lord guide our spirit.  Oh, that it might be true that “love knows no bounds,” and our goal be that we be judged by the content of our character rather than the color of our skin! If we will just ask ourselves “What would Jesus do; how does Jesus feel,” and be guided by that, we will be able to face our Maker on judgment day without shame.

I believe everybody gets to keep their ethnic identity, including whites. Jesus said, “Go and teach all nations.” The Greek for “all nations”  is “ta ethne,” which means “all ethnic groups.” If Jesus recognizes ethnicity, then so must we. We know that in the book of Revelation, all tribes and kindred and nations will be present in heaven. We know that the leaves of the tree of life are for the healing of “ta ethne,” Revelation 22:2. This tells us two things: in heaven, race relations are healed; and in heaven, you get to keep your ethnic identity!

Therefore, I can keep my ethnic identity and culture without shame or contradiction of my identity in Christ; and yet I need to respect your ethnic identity if it is different from mine, because as St. Paul said, in Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek. We are all one in Christ, yet Christ approves of our difference on a cultural level and does not require us to change our ethnic identity except as we need to become more Christlike. Most important, our ethnic identity is not a wall between us – because the love of Christ knows no bounds!

Race: Playing Well with Others – Part One

In June of 2003, the mayor of Tupelo appointed me to the Tupelo Bi-racial Committee, whose purpose was to help race relations in the city. In preparation for the first meeting, I wrote the following article. It applies not only to race relationships but to any two groups in conflict.

THE ISSUE OF RACE — PLAYING WAR GAMES vs. MAKING FRIENDS

In this world there are many groups. Some are friendly with other groups, and some almost define themselves in terms of struggle against opposing groups. Some examples:

Groups at war with each other to a serious extent:    

Arabs and Jews

Pakistan and India

America and terrorists

Groups that have (mostly) friendly rivalry with each other:

Baptists and Methodists (and other denominations)

Men and women

Mississippi State and Ole Miss

Notice that there are groups within each major group that go against the flow. For example, there are Arabs in Palestine who want peace with the Jews, and who reach out in friendship; and there are Jews who love Arabs. There is always a spectrum of beliefs and feelings within each group, including a majority opinion, a minority opinion, and a smaller number of various opinions. Some Baptists like Methodists; some do not. Some men like all women; some do not. And some people from Mississippi State marry people from Ole Miss; others would never consider such a terrible thing.

Here are five different levels of coexistence, from good to bad:

1.       A happy level of coexistence is when different church denominations meet for rallies at Thanksgiving, Easter, or Christmas. The jokes are all of a positive nature, such as a Methodist saying after eating a Baptist supper, “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Baptist.” There are quite a few couples in which one spouse is Baptist and the other is Methodist. 

2.       At a lower level would be the kind of relationship between Ole Miss fans and Mississippi State fans at the Egg Bowl. They obey the rules, exercise good sportsmanship, and accept penalties when they are fouled; yet there is a much stronger partisanship present than at a church rally. Marriages with one fan on each side might try to avoid the game to avoid hard feelings. 

3.       Still further down the chain would be a meeting of Congress. People give speeches against the other side’s proposals and for their own side’s proposals. There we see a stronger display of partisanship than at the Egg Bowl. There are special times of unity, as when after 911 they joined and sang “God Bless America” on the steps; but there are also times of division, as when there was fierce contesting of the outcome of the presidential race between Gore and Bush. 

4.       Worse yet, there is the kind of relationship that exists between America and Cuba. We nearly had a world war when Cuba invited the Soviets to install nuclear missiles. There was the Bay of Pigs fiasco when the CIA tried to help Cubans in exile to invade Cuba and take it away from Castro. The USA’s sugar embargo is still in existence against Cuba. Even at this level, though, we still have diplomatic relations and tourism, it should be noted. And we are not at war. 

5.       Down close to the bottom would be the kind of relationship between Israeli Jews and Arabs. There are terrorist attacks; people are killed. Each side barely tolerates the other. There are checkpoints, walls, fences, curfews, and military forces in the streets. If one person marries a member of the opposite side, it is possible that their kin will try to kill them. Diplomatic relations keep failing.

Groups at war with each other tend to play destructive games, while groups friendly with each other tend to play games that help and that build ever better relationships. Here are some examples of destructive games and helpful games, with a tip of the hat to Eric Berne, author of Transactional Analysis in Psychotherapy and Games People Play:

Destructive games:

  • Now I’ve Got You: One person catches the other in some kind of slip, and then uses it to punish and accuse. Internal reward: feeling in control, feeling better than the other person. You see this in wars between nations.
  • Try and Collect: One person deliberately incurs debt, enjoys the bounty, then doesn’t pay the lender. Internal reward: feeling that all lenders are wicked, being a victim.
  • Try and Stop Me: One person behaves badly while the other person tries to stop them and rescue them. Internal reward: feeling it’s not my fault, I can’t help it, you should have tried harder to save me.
  • It’s All Your Fault: One person, when disturbed, makes a mistake and then says “see what you made me do!” Then they are entitled to be angry.
  • Courtroom: One person tries to lay the blame on the other, while the other does the same. Internal reward: getting away with something, feeling put upon and thus not responsible. You see this in divorce proceedings.
  • Look How Hard I’ve Tried: One person makes some effort to help another. When the efforts are not appreciated as much as they want, they give up. Internal reward: Feeling justified – I’m a good person, but you are bad.
  • Why Don’t You Yes, But: One person asks for help, then when it is offered, shoots down each suggestion. Internal reward: See, you aren’t as smart as you think.
  • I’m Trying to Help You: One person takes it upon themselves to rescue another. Internal reward: I’m better than you.
  • Psychiatry: One person tries to psychoanalyze another. Internal reward: See, I know what’s wrong with you.

 Supportive games:

  • Paying a Visit: One person shows hospitality to the other. Later, the hospitable one become a visitor to the other. Churches have rallies together. Internal reward: Appreciation received, mutual respect, family feelings.
  • Happy to Help You: One person does something genuinely helpful for another. They take turns being helpful to each other. Internal reward: One gets thanks, the other gets helped. Good neighbors do this over the years. And so do good friends.
  • You’ll Be Glad You Know Me: One person works hard to prove that the trust of others was well founded. Internal reward: Justification for one, joy for others.
  • Brothers and Sisters: One enters into a sibling type relationship with another. Internal reward: Giving and receiving love, enlarging one’s family.
  • Friendly Competition: By showing good sportsmanship and joking trash talk, people enjoy one another. Baptists and Methodists do this.
  • Here, Have Another Helping: Showing care and love through food is a standard of mothers the world over.
  • Share My Sorrows, Share My Joys: Relating and sharing joys and sorrows is a very big way that people bond.

[Part Two, the conclusion, will discuss ways to end racism.]

Coffee Chronicles – Part Twelve – Illegal Peanuts

“All good things must come to an end…”

                 It was illegal for us to bring in boiled peanuts to eat at Hardee’s; so, at least one of us feeling guilty, after eating our fill and still having a big quantity, we gave them to Julia, the manager of Hardee’s, for the staff to eat. Which they righteously did.

We saw snow flurries outside just before Rev. Dan came in. He wouldn’t believe it. Secretly in my head, I thought to myself, “Hm. Doubting Dan.” The flurries were very light. He finally saw it, thus becoming “Believing Dan” in my head.

Rev. Dan taught us a song from his seminary days. He was part of a quartet which included a seminary professor. They sang at churches. The professor announced to the congregation, “Our next number will be ‘Love Lifted Me.’” The boys changed the words, though: “I was sinking deep in sin / Having a wonderful time; Very deeply stained within / While sipping on my wine.” The professor finally got them stopped, but the crowd loved it. Dan had to go, and said as he bundled up, “Well…I hate to leave good company.” Mike said, “And us, too?” He left us singing, “I was sinking deep in sin….”

Someone asked Johnny how his heart catheterization went yesterday. The doc said, “Perfect,” but when Johnny asked the doc to put that in writing so his wife would believe it, the doc wouldn’t do it, he said “No.” However, we believed the doc was pulling Johnny’s leg, so to speak.

Danny was feeling better. He has about lost his limp. However, he now has a nickname for his lady therapist. He calls her “Sergeant Slaughter” after the comic book character. Terry  made up an imaginary dialogue between Danny and Sgt. Slaughter: “How does that feel?” “It HURTS!!!” “Well, good,” said Slaughter.

Maybe I’ll write some more Coffee Chronicles sometime in the future. But for now, I want to give the guys a rest!

Poultry in Motion: All Things Wise and Chicken Full

I lived in Morton, Mississippi, for several years. Koch Foods has a chicken processing plant there. Nearby Forest has a big Tyson processing plant for chickens, also. I have friends in both places. In honor of those who work on the line day after day, wading through chlorine water and hoisting 70-lb. boxes filled with breasts and legs, risking fingers and hands in sharp whirring machinery, wheezing with bronchial problems in the night, I dedicate this flight of chicken fancy.

CHICKEN HYMNS

“I’ll Fly Away”

“When the Road Is Crossed Up Yonder I’ll Be There”

“Take My Life and Let It Be, Consecrated, Lord, to Thee”

“The Old Rugged Roost”

“Softly and Tenderly, Jesus Is Clucking, Clucking for You and for Me”

“Lord, I Want to Be a Chicken in My Heart, in My Heart”

“Pass Me Not, O Gentle Rooster”

 

CHICKEN WEDDING SONGS

“Wind Beneath My Wings”

 

CHICKEN SERMONS

(1) “Fear Not, O Chickens of Little Faith!”

(2) “Foghorn Leghorn! Come Down! For I’m Going To Your House Today.”

(3) “Where Will You Roost in Eternity?”

(4) “I Would Have Gathered You as a Hen Gathers Her Chicks”

(5) “Hide Me in the Shadow of Thy Wings”

(6) “Are Not Two Chickens Sold for a Farthing?”

(7) “Greater Love Hath No Chicken Than This, That He Lay Down His Life”

 

CHICKEN NOVELS

“One Flew Over the Chicken’s Nest”

“For Whom the Rooster Crows”

 

CHICKEN CLASSICS

“Don Chicken of La Mancha”

“Count Cluckula of Transylvania”

“The Adventures of Cackleberry Finn”

 

AMERICAN CHICKEN MOVIES

“The Sky Is Falling” starring Chicken Little

“For Whom the Axe Falls” by Birdnest Hemingway

“Bird on a Wire”

“To Kill a Mocking Chicken” starring Gregory Peck

“The Birds” by Alfred Hitch-cock-a-doodle-do

 

JAPANESE CHICKEN MOVIES

“Hen-tai”

 

WORLDWIDE CHICKEN MOTTO:

“Eat More Cow”

 

CHICKEN ROCK GROUPS

“The Yardbirds”

“The Dixie Chicks”

“Lynyrd Gyzzyrd”

“Poultry in Motion”

 

CHICKEN POP TUNES

“Lay Lady Lay”

“Owner of a Chicken Heart”

“Bad to the Chicken Bone”

“Crossroads”

“Thank God I’m a Country Chicken”

“Livin’ La Vida Cluck-a”

“A Rooster Named Sue”

“I’ll Never Cluck Again”

“Walk This Way”

“She’s Got Legs”

“She’s My Little Chicken Coupe, You Don’t Know What I Got”

“It Ain’t Easy Bein’ Me”

“I Got a Black Magic Chicken”

“Every Girl Crazy ‘Bout a Sharp Dressed Hen”

 

At this point, I lost my concentration and started in on pigs. I quit after only one item for pigs:

PIG MOVIES

“Jurassic Pork”

I end with the picture below, which inspired all this in the first place. My daughter has a friend in Vermont named Psycho. He drew her this chicken. You will see the name we have given him below the drawing. And thus endeth the lesson for today, my little chickadees.

Image

                             Don Chicken of La Mancha

Coffee Chronicles – Part Eleven – Crazy Remark Specialists

It was a cold morning in February. The wind was whipping along the ground and the tops of trees as we came in one by one to Hardee’s, starting around 6:30 in the morning. First thing on everyone’s minds was how Ken had stood his stomach hernia surgery. He’s doing fine, being babied by his wife at home and loving it. He’ll be gone for a while till he heals some.

Mike made the first crazy remark: “There is a Toad Suck, Arkansas,” he exclaimed. Nobody said much to that. A few minutes later, Dan said he had trouble with armadillos digging holes in his yard.  As though there was some sort of weird competition for non sequitur follow-ups, Terry pronounced, “Armadillos can give you leprosy.” There was a stunned silence, except for me raising my eyebrows and turning to Eddie. Eddie agreed. Eddie is the state forestry expert and retired chief administrator of the northern half of Mississippi and should know. Still, it sounded strange to me. I asked Eddie, “Would you back up Terry if he was lying?” Eddie said, “He’s not lying.” However, I was still suspicious.

I asked Terry, “If you kiss the armadillo?” Terry said no, but Mike Tolbert said, “Sounds like Danny’s first date.” Mike was implying that Danny’s first kiss was with a leprous armadillo. Fortunately, Danny had just gotten up to get some more coffee. Danny is the youngest and most hot-blooded of our crew, the amorous variety, and therefore suffers the most verbal abuse. It’s a kind of fondness we show him. In answer, when Danny got back he showed Mike some pictures of some sort on his iPhone. I am sure Danny’s pictures were not of armadillos.

A few minutes later, interrupting a discussion about women, Mike up and said, “They fired a guy from my plant last week.” What for, we asked. “He put something where it didn’t belong.” I include this to show that we do talk about tragedy as well as pulling one another’s leg. I’m not explaining Mike’s remark. You will have to work it out for yourself. In fact, we’d better leave Mike and Danny aside a little while.

Terry sadly remarked that he had lost a second hunting beagle. She was run over on the highway near where Terry was hunting. “She was five years old, and I just about had her trained, too.” He had lost another beagle earlier, so this was quite a blow. Terry now has only two hunting dogs left, and neither of them very well trained yet.

Danny said, “Let’s change the subject onto something happy.” So I told about my project, thinking up Chicken Hymns such as “I’ll Fly Away” and “When the Road Is Crossed Up Yonder I’ll Be There.” Chicken Sermons would include such titles as “Where Will You Roost In Eternity?” Also Chicken Novels, such as “One Flew Over the Chicken’s Nest.” Terry lit up and told that, when he was a young man, he and another guy were in charge of 6,000 laying hens, and had to pick up 4,000 eggs a day. I asked, “Did you wash your hands?” “Yes. Washed the eggs, too.” I wanted to ask him if he had ever kissed one of the hens and gotten leprosy, but kept quiet instead.

Terry then said he was going to Texas next week on another quail hunt. This made me mention that two of my Facebook Friends, both from Texas, wanted to become honorary members of our group. Coach Johnny piped up and said, “Tell them sure, but there is a $5,000 membership fee.” But that is just Johnny. Like we could collect a fee! We might have to pay them instead of the other way around. I wondered out loud if the Texans could keep up with all our lies if they did actually move to Tupelo and join us. (They both probably could, since both were born in Mississippi.)

A Snap-on Tools salesman named Greg came and sat down briefly with us, then took off. He brought a quantity of fried peanuts and gave them to us. They were good. He had heated some peanut oil to 300° and left the peanuts in the pot for about 10 to 12 minutes. Amazing.

About then, an old truck driver named George sat down with us where Greg had been. George stirred his coffee and asked what was going on. Terry, attempting to stir up trouble, said, “George, Wally here admits to embroidering the truth about us on Facebook. Wally, George here tells some pretty tall tales too.” I asked George, “Do you tell tall tales?” George answered, “My wife says I do…but she don’t count.”

Terry and George then began to gossip about their next door neighbors, which was my cue to hike on out of there and go walking at Barnes Crossing Mall.